Imagine if a catastrophic earthquake struck Seattle knocking out all phones, power and water. If you then had an emergency such as smelling gas, who would you tell? And how could you? Fortunately, Seattle residents have anticipated this by setting up a network of Emergency Communication Hubs around the city that would be staffed by trained volunteers and ham radio operators who could send emergency messages to the city. In northeast Seattle, thanks to the efforts of Cedar Park resident Sandy Motzer, an Emergency Communications Hub is being established in the parking lot of the Lake City Fred Meyer this Spring.
Although there already are Hubs sprinkled throughout the city (11 in West Seattle alone), last year while attending a presentation at the Lake City Library by Debbie Goetz of the City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Sandy saw a map that showed the Hubs closest to Lake City were at the top of Maple Leaf and in Wedgwood! “It was pretty clear we didn’t have one,” she said. Sandy e-mailed Debbie who replied, “Why don’t you come to a Hub Caps (captains) meeting?” that are held monthly. Sandy did and then decided that Lake City could really use this resource. She discussed plans to set up a Hub with Laurie Ames of the Department of Neighborhoods and Tracy Connolly.
Initially, they thought they could make do with a Small Sparks Neighborhood Matching Fund grant for $1000. Sandy then got connected up with Bill Dock, the Hub Cap in Wedgwood (located at Hunter Farms). “Bill spent a rainy morning with me walking around and giving me information about running a Hub.” That morning with Bill convinced her a Small Sparks grant wouldn’t be enough. Instead, she’d need to get a Small and Simple grant, but to qualify, “I needed to find a community of people.” Through e-mail lists, the Lake City Neighborhood Alliance, and other community outreach activities, she was able to recruit 96 Lake City residents from Olympic Hills, Douglas Park Cooperative, Cedar Park, Little Brook, Victory Heights and Matthews Beach as volunteers and obtain fiscal sponsorship from the North Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
“One of our challenges was finding a site because Lake City is very big,” Sandy said. Normally parks are considered ideal locations for Hubs since they have fewer structures nearby that might sustain damage. However the tiny parks in Lake City weren’t conducive for a Hub location. Fortunately, Troy Graves, the store director at Fred Meyer and Kroger, its parent company, embraced the idea to let them use a commercial property as the site of the Hub.
A grant proposal to create a Hub in Lake City was submitted in September 2012 and approved for funding in November 2012.
The purpose of the $18,000 grant award is to encourage Seattle’s Lake City residents, businesses, and schools and other community groups individually, collectively, and as a community to be prepared for an emergency disaster. In that event, Hub volunteers will activate the Emergency Communication Hub to collect information on local situations, needs, and resources; relay communications between Hub Sites and to and from the City; be an information resource to residents; and assist in the allocation of resources to needs. It’s a matching grant, and that match is achieved with volunteer hours ($20 for each hour performed per volunteer). Over the next year Sandy and the committee will be organizing an army of volunteers doing everything from translating brochures into different languages to assisting in community outreach. No special skills are needed, if you’d like to help, e-mail Sandy: firstname.lastname@example.org.